Monday Musical Moment: Eh…What’s Opera Doc?

Justin Langham   -  
Who doesn’t love opera?
Even if you don’t think you know anything about opera, their music and stories have purveyed all of society for centuries. Opera as an artform first came to prominence in Italy in the late 16th century out of a desire for secular musical dramas for entertainment, although many operas do contain religous elements in their music and subject matter. Contrary to musical theater, an opera is sung throughout most commonly in either a recitative, basically “sung speech,” or through solo arias, duets, or ensemble pieces featuring 3 or more characters and sometimes full chorus!
I actually first grew to love operatic music while watching Looney Tunes cartoons growing up in episodes like “The Rabbit of Seville,” a spoof on Rossini’s famous “Barber of Seville,” and “What’s Opera Doc?,” which involved Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny in an elaborate version of Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyres.” If you’ve never seen one or both of those, I can’t recommend them enough to brighten up your mood! There is also an episode called “Long Haired Hare” where Bugs Bunny disguises himself as an operatic conductor –dramatically referred to by the musician’s only as “Leopold”– in order to make the opera singer who was rude to him earlier in the episode sing high, long, and loud notes until he gets red in the face! Interestingly, the conductor Bugs portrays was actually modeled after famed English/Polish conductor Leopold Stokowski, who was in fact the director of our own Houston Symphony from 1955 to 1961.
Speaking of opera, this coming Friday at 7:00pm will be a spectacular concert called “A Night at the Opera,” featuring some of the most popular music from the opera realm, as well as some new music by yours truly! Our hosts for that evening will be nationally renowned pair of singers, soprano Kelly Kaduce and baritone Dr. Lee Gregory, who will be accompanied by Dr. Andreea Mut, pianist for Grammy-winning Houston Chamber Choir and ROCO chamber orchestra, as well as staff pianist at the University of Houston. I know these musicians quite well and I can tell you this will not be an evening to miss! For those of you who perhaps cannot make it to the live performance, there will also be a live-stream of the concert on the church website and social media. Trust me when I say that there is no place in the world that you could hear this level of artistry for FREE admission…  just saying!
As a teaser for this Friday’s concert, I would like to share with you one of my favorite arias, “Song to the Moon” from Antonín Dvořák’s opera Rusalka. The title character, Rusalka, is a water nymph who falls in love with a human prince. You could think of it as a very tragic story of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” She wants to become human in order to be with him, no matter the cost and sings “Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém” (The Song to the Moon) asking the moon to reveal her love to her beloved prince. You may recognize that the same performer in this video, soprano Kelly Kaduce, will also be one of those performing on Friday! You read her bio at the link below:
I hope to see all of you there on Friday at 7pm! Come early to get a good seat 😊